Here’s what I’ve come to realize: you take the perspective that defends your story. People who are angry find what to be angry about, people who are sad find what to be sad about, and people who are happy find what to be happy about.
When something happens, while there are a thousand ways to look at it, I’ve noticed that people will find the story that supports the emotion they most regularly live in. Why? Because we are all storytellers.
We’ve adopted a persona and a habitual pattern of feeling a certain way. Think of it like wearing a costume. If you’re a Stormtrooper, you’d look silly holding a bouquet of roses. Instead, you find weapons, tattoos, stickers—I have no idea what a Stormtrooper would shop for—that support the outfit you are wearing. This is the same reason My Little Pony’s Twilight Sparkle would look ridiculous going goth. That doesn’t mean she can’t, it means it’s just more work to begin—What will everyone say? Think?— and sustain it .
Therefore, you find it easier to do what’s familiar. So the next time you get offended by a comment or get saddened by what someone says, take a step back and know you are interpreting your go-to pattern of emotion.
Try Wearing a Different Emotional Outfit with These 3 Tips
1. Force yourself to choose to see another version of the story.
Go for the gold with some humor. Ask yourself what’s funny about what he just said? Picture him with donkey ears and suspenders and repeat what he said in your mind in a really high pitched voice.
2. Respond with a completely unexpected answer.
Confuse him and make him think, “What? Wait a second? What did you just say?” For instance, you could say, “Awww that’s so sweet.” It may be an absurd response, but I guarantee you it will throw the train off the tracks.
3. Know that the person’s comment has absolutely nothing to do with you.
They are responding to the story they have created about you, about the situation, and may even be responding to someone that upset them six hours ago. Thank them and tell them to have a great day and walk away. You’ve just obliterated their chance of having their story turn out the way they expected and removed all satisfaction—at least for them.
Remember, life is a story you are creating with every thought and response you create.
Choose a different thought, respond accordingly, and watch how life changes.
-Gregg Korrol, Author of The Gifted Storyteller, educational leader, coach and expert on communication.